Crosby-Giroux rivalry off to a cool start

PHIADELPHIA -- If we accept that the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins enjoy one of the most heated, emotional rivalries in all of pro sport, by extension the competition between the two teams’ talented captains is also chock full of emotion.

While the Sidney Crosby-Claude Giroux rivalry was not a factor in Saturday’s 3-1 Penguins win that marked the opening of the lockout-shortened 2013 season, it doesn’t mean that it won’t as this season speeds along to its conclusion. In fact, you can pretty much bank on it.

The two, of course, famously fought during last spring’s playoff series won in six games by the Flyers, and it was Giroux who got the better of Crosby in the deciding sixth game, delivering a big check and scoring a crucial goal early in that deciding contest.

The two faced off against each other to start Saturday’s game and Crosby was on the ice when Giroux scored the Flyers’ only goal.

In an interview earlier this week, Crosby said he hadn’t been asked about Giroux since the start of training camp, but that he expected it would become a topic as the season wore on.

“That’s probably developing into a bit of a rivalry, if it hasn’t already. That’s kind of just the way the game works; everyone kind of looks for those matchups. That’s a pretty easy one with Philly,” Crosby told ESPN.com.

Although he has always been juxtaposed against Alex Ovechkin, both having broken into the league at the same time at the end of the last NHL lockout, Crosby said he is comfortable with the challenges that other elite players, such as Giroux, represent.

“I don’t mind it. I enjoy competition. I think whether it’s hockey or any other sport you always kind of look to those matchups within the game and that’s fun, that’s competition, that’s competing and you look on the other side, the guy you’re facing off against and you know you want to be better than him tonight and there’s expectations on both of you. So I think there’s something cool about that,” Crosby said.

“I think, if anything, it always kind of gets the best out of you and hopefully gets the best out of the guy you’re playing. I think that kind of the game within the game is a lot of fun."